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Responding to Racism in Star Wars Is the Beginning But It Can Do More

Moses Ingram received racial harassment by bad fans but Star Wars has the means to do more to prevent these situations from happening again.

Star Wars Moses Ingram Riva The Third Sister ObiWan Kenobi John Boyega Finn Kelly Marie Tran Rose Tico Moses Ingram is the latest example of a Star Wars representative receiving racist comments online but even with Star Wars officially supported more can be done to prevent this in the future. Ingram plays Reva the third sister in the ObiWan Kenobi series. And the artist revealed through her account on Instagram a series of racist messages she sent to her. Contrary to the belief that the criticisms were about her acting or her character hundreds of comments directly referred to her race skin and more.

Sadly the toxic part of Star Wars fans is no exception to racism so much so that Lucasfilm expected Ingram to tackle some standoffs. The studio has informed the actress that she may face harassment and when she does notify them when this occurs. After Ingram revealed the harassment the official Star Wars social media accounts defended the actress. One statement read There are over 20 million conscious species in the Star Wars galaxy dont choose to be a racist. Another message told fans If anyone wants to make her feel in any way unwelcome we only have one thing to say we resist.

Lucasfilms expectation of such interaction from its fan base is indicative of an even bigger problem with Star Wars. Both sentiments in defense of actress ObiWan Kenobi were wellintentioned. However the tone of the two statements does not seem to be enough to reprimand the intolerant comments. This wasnt the time to be cute or stay on brand although its worth noting that star Ewan McGregor also sent a message of support that was more direct. If the studio knew that such harassment was going to happen it should have taken more proactive action rather than waiting for the actress to reveal the distressing messages Minority actors should not bear that trauma and burden. More than just dealing with the fallout from remaking Star Wars characters Lucasfilm has to be proactive in dealing with harassment. Given the franchises history with minority representatives being harassed and facing bad attacks a new approach is necessary.

History of Star Wars with Racism
Finn and Rose in Star Wars The Last Jedi Toxic behavior in the fandom is nothing new. Social media has made the smallest section of the fan base seem the loudest regarding such hostile behaviour. The main targets of most attacks are minorities often targeting sexual orientation gender and/or ethnicity. Because of the immediacy of social media a number of representatives of the more recent Star Wars minority have faced similar harassment of Moses Ingram.

John Boyega was one of the most famous victims of racist attacks targeted by Star Wars fans. Online outrage over Boyega being a Black Storm trooper erupted before Star Wars The Force Awakens even debuted. The most irrational fear was that the Star Wars movie was aiding the white genocide by having a distinct character Black and the stormtrooper most of whom complained that there was no way a soldier in a black scifi series could have been. When asked about these critics Boyega dismissed them and tried to draw attention to the characters story instead. Unfortunately Lucasfilm had little public response in support of Boyega during that time.

Only a few years later online trolls started a similar harassment campaign against Kelly Marie Tran. For example the VietnameseAmerican actress who portrayed Rose Tico in Star Wars The Last Jedi her characters Wookieepedia page a fanrun online encyclopedia about Star Wars has been edited to include many racist comments The characters name and homeworld have been replaced by derogatory Asian terms. The Last Jedi didnt frighten Kelly Marie Tran but she experienced so much harassment for months that she eventually deleted much of her social media. Director Rian Johnson came to her defense as did costars John Boyega and Mark Hamill.

After the announcement of the new host of the High Republic Show Christina Ariel who is black was attacked by more online trolls who sent offensive and racist comments. In January 2021 the official Star Wars account had once again state support for its host. We dont stand up for bullying and racism the studio said sternly. Ariels situation just a year ahead of Moses Ingrams harassment gives the impression that issuing statements of racist rebukes isnt enough. The truth is Star Wars has inadvertently created this toxic portion of its own fan base. There is a deeper problem with Star Wars and how to deal with its vulnerabilities

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